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September 6, 2021 8:00 pm  #1

Sherlock Holmes and the Raven's Curse

As promised, here is my account of the play Sherlock Holmes and the Raven's Curse that I saw performed yesterday. I had thought this one was by a different writer than the play version of The Hound of the Baskervilles that I saw a few years ago, but R. Hamilton Wright wrote that one as well, though this time it seems he wrote this one on his own without a partner like the previous one I saw. Like that one, the stage design was pretty creative, with pieces rolling in and out. It used projections, which I'm not sure were always as good as in the last play I saw, but I still thought they had some great moments. There's a scene on a train where they had the scenery passing by projected on the background like you would see if you were riding. Scenes that took place on the shore on the Isle of Skye had waves crashing against the shore as if you were there.

This one was interesting because it takes place after the death of Mary Watson. At the beginning, Sherlock is secretly spying on Watson because they're not currently living together. He's concerned about Watson but doesn't know how to reach out to him to show him. I thought that was very Sherlock, certainly in the BBC version of the character we all love. There's also a scene in the Diogenes Club, so we get a scene with Mycroft. There was lots of great banter between them, which was true of Sherlcok and Watson and other characters. There's a mystery in this play, but I felt that it kind of fit into the "show about a detective, not a detective show" vibe, because it was about the characters, which I liked. 

This play portrays a past for Sherlock where he spent holidays visiting family at a house (Raven Hall) on the Isle of Skye, and the play begins with the death of his uncle, who has left Sherlock the cottage nearby (Mycroft was left a painting of the cottage, but the will ends up containing a clue for Sherlock to solve the mystery). Sherlock takes Watson there because he wants a companion to solve the mystery (which includes a long-missing gold statue of a raven that has supposedly cursed the family who lives at Ravel Hall) and to help him find a distraction from his grief. In the process, Watson pretends to be Sherlock's valet so that he can help gather information for the case, which was a fun reversal since it's usually Sherlock who is in disguise.

As a result of this exploration of Sherlock's past, there's a new character who is his adopted cousin, Fiona McKenzie. She's clever like Sherlock and helps solve the mystery. She's Chinese, so she gets to talk a bit about how she's experienced life differently than the white members of the family. But mostly she's just a fun character. She was very energetic, so at first I was worried I would find her too annoying, but I ended up liking her! It's a bit of a spoiler (though it's revealed in act 1) that she is the only woman Sherlock ever loved, and we get to see that love for each other a bit, though it doesn't end like a typical romance does, fortunately (though we do get to see some vulnerability to Sherlock as a result).

The show still places importance on Sherlock and Watson's friendship, including in the final scene that mirrors an exchange in an earlier that I thought was touching. I can mention what it is if you all don't care about spoilers - I honestly have no idea if this play will ever reach you, but I will leave it up to you to decide.

Last edited by Yitzock (September 6, 2021 8:02 pm)
Clueing for looks.

September 7, 2021 5:20 am  #2

Re: Sherlock Holmes and the Raven's Curse

Sounds really good!


September 7, 2021 5:27 pm  #3

Re: Sherlock Holmes and the Raven's Curse

Thank you for the report.  I don't mind spoilers as it's unlikely I'll get to see it.  Although if there's a major twist, maybe put it in spoiler tags! 


September 8, 2021 3:48 pm  #4

Re: Sherlock Holmes and the Raven's Curse

Besley, yes it was! I also forgot to mention in my earlier post that Fiona often refers to Sherlock as "Sherl" which reminded me of BBC's Sherlock as well. If the year this play was written was in the program, I missed it, and I couldn't find online anything about it (or if I could have, I missed it) but I couldn't help but wonder if that was a coincidence or if the writer was influenced by the show. 

As for the moment I was referring to from the ending, I wouldn't say it's a really major spoiler. Here it is:
When Sherlock asks Watson to travel to Skye with him in the first act, he says that he's already got train tickets for both of them. Watson is surprised and asks Sherlock how he knew Watson would agree to come along. Sherlock replies that he didn't know for sure, but that he'd "hoped" Watson would accept. It turns into a bit of a funny moment because after Watson leaves 221B and Sherlock has told Mrs. Hudson about their plans, Sherlock rushes out and says he has to go and get two train tickets to Scotland.
At the end of the second act, after the mystery has been solved, Watson says that he's planning on traveling to visit family elsewhere in the country instead of going back to London right away (I don't remember where exactly, but I believe it was somewhere in the north, since they talked about how it was going to be very cold there). Watson asks if Sherlock wants to come with him, and after a short discussion Sherlock agrees. Watson pulls out of his pocket the two train tickets he's purchased for them. Sherlock, realizing that Watson had already arranged for the tickets, asks Watson how he knew Sherlock would come along. Watson replies that he didn't know, "but I'd hoped." And that was how the play ended!
I was grinning beneath my mask because I thought that was wonderful and sweet!
Clueing for looks.
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